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Our Team


Our Founders

Richard Rusczyk

Art of Problem Solving was founded by Richard Rusczyk in 2003 to create interactive educational opportunities for avid math students. Richard is the author or a co-author of 7 AoPS textbooks and a past Director of the USA Mathematical Talent Search. He was a participant in National MATHCOUNTS, a three-time participant in the Math Olympiad Summer Program, and a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner (1989). He received the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions Paul Erdös Award in 2014. He graduated from Princeton University in 1993, and worked as a bond trader for D.E. Shaw & Company for four years. AoPS marks Richard's return to his vocation - educating motivated students.

Glen Dawson

In 2014, Glen founded a learning center in Morrisville, North Carolina, that two years later became the first AoPS Academy campus. Glen served as the National Director of AoPS Academy until his retirement in 2019. He has experience as a college math professor, statistician, and expert SAS programmer. He has been a professional math tutor for many years, and specializes in training academically-advanced and high-performing math students. Glen is a graduate of Duke University and holds a graduate degree in statistics from Boston University.

David Patrick

Dave joined AoPS in 2004. He is the author or a co-author of 4 AoPS textbooks. Dave earned the sole perfect score on the American High School Mathematics Examination (AHSME) in 1988 and was a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner that year. He attended the Research Science Institute (RSI) in 1987, and the Math Olympiad Summer Program in 1988, where he first met fellow student Richard Rusczyk. He also finished in the top 10 on the Putnam exam in 1991. Dave graduated from Carnegie Mellon in 1992 with a BS in Mathematics/Computer Science and an MS in Mathematics. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT in 1997. He was an acting Assistant Professor at the University of Washington from 1997 to 2001. Dave is originally from Western New York and is an alumnus of the SUNY Buffalo Gifted Math Program.


Directors

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James Cho

James Cho Campus Director

James graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in economics. He began his teaching career while attending graduate school in South Korea, with emphases on economics, statistics, and elementary to college level mathematics. James was drawn to the high quality of students and academic rigor of the curriculum found at AoPS. He enjoys guiding students in making their own logical connections, and finds the most joy in helping the students make personal discoveries. James has been thrilled by the growth of the students, and looks to make the campus a valuable resource in the community.

Greg Crowe

Greg Crowe Associate Director

Greg graduated from the University of Maryland in College Park. He has over a decade of teaching experience in English, history, and special education. AoPS Academy’s student-first, foundational, and engaging approach to education makes the Academy the perfect place for him to pursue his pedagogical philosophy. Greg's teaching style emphasizes the pursuit of knowledge over all else, mutual respect between instructors and students, and having some fun while learning. Greg looks forward to reading the imaginative, innovative, and creative writing submissions he receives from his students every year who are driven and passionate about the language arts.


Office Staff

Anastasiia Diurd

Anastasiia Diurd Administrative Manager

Anastasiia has been working at AoPS for over 4 years now. She started her journey as a Front Desk Associate and transitioned to Administrative Manager last year. With a background rooted in language learning and teaching, Anastasiia holds a degree in Russian language and culture as well as Japanese language and culture from the University of Maryland. She was drawn to AoPS due to its innovative approach to mathematics and language arts education, emphasizing problem-solving skills and critical thinking over rote memorization. What Anastasiia loves the most about working with AoPS students is witnessing their growth and development. She finds it incredibly rewarding to see them gain confidence in their abilities, overcome challenges, and ultimately, achieve their academic goals. Building meaningful connections with students and being a part of their journey to success is truly inspiring and fulfilling.

Angela Elias

Angela Elias Front Desk Associate

Angela graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a bachelor's degree in social work and sociology. She is currently pursing her master's degree in social work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Angela has been with AoPS since 2021; she has previous customer service experience and wanted to bring it to an educational setting. Since then, she learned that she loves working with families and students to help meet their academic goals and assist in any way she can!

Keliane Ghonda

Keliane Ghonda Front Desk Associate

Keliane is a graduate of Mount St. Mary's University, where she majored in accounting and is currently obtaining her master's degree in business administration. During her time in undergrad, she assisted her classmates and graduate school students with writing essays, proof reading, and research. Since graduating in 2019, Keliane has worked in various accounting positions, tutored elementary school kids in reading and writing, worked at a bookstore, and became a realtor. She is proficient in reading and writing and has a passion for educating others. In her free time, Keliane enjoys reading books, gaming, hiking, and playing new board games with her friends.

Ankitha Tallapragada

Ankitha Tallapragada Front Desk Associate

Ankitha earned a bachelor's degree in linguistics from the University of Maryland and a Carpentry Certificate from Montgomery College. Through her experience as a summer camp counselor, she learned how much she enjoys working with kids, and encouraging them to gain confidence in themselves and their abilities. She enjoys being a part of the AoPS team and loves helping students and parents in any way she can!


Instructors

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Xae-Rashi Makai

Xae-Rashi Makai Senior Instructor

As a lifelong doer of things, Xae-Rashi completed their undergraduate studies with a Bachelor of Science, double-majoring in applied mathematics & sociology and double-minoring in physics & criminal justice. A wide variety of teaching and child-centered volunteer opportunities led Xae-Rashi to their work as a senior educator. The opportunity to work with highly motivated students using an engaging curriculum in a supportive environment drew them to AoPS. They love hearing students explain their reasoning. As they always say, there’s more than one way to skin a math problem! Xae-Rashi also loves sharing the joy when students solve complex problems correctly! Their teaching style is friendly and helpful with a focus on supporting students’ understanding by building on what they already know.

Tedla Abye

Tedla Abye

Tedla holds bachelor's degrees in mathematics and computer science, as well as a master's degree in computational science. Previously, he served as a senior lecturer in computer science at Kotebe University College. Currently, he offers short-term training courses in computer science while simultaneously working as a database developer. He enjoys the emphasis that the AoPS curriculum puts on the practical application of mathematics in real-life scenarios. He is enthusiastic about teaching and collaborating with advanced students who are equally passionate about mathematics. Tedla derives immense satisfaction from guiding ambitious students who demonstrate a passion for learning and a drive to conquer new challenges each day. Witnessing their growth and achievement fills him with joy. His teaching style is student-centered, where he strives to motivate them to discover solutions and insights on their own in every lesson.

Somtoo Akaigwe

Somtoo Akaigwe

Somtoo is a business major who is passionate about business infrastructure and software development. He has a background in sales and digital marketing. He's also a former 3D design tutor, so he values education and is happy to support AoPS students with their learning and goals! Somtoo loves seeing the passion that students have for different subjects, and enjoys steering them in the right direction.

Guanbo Bian

Guanbo Bian

Guanbo Bian holds a PhD in engineering and has six years of experience teaching mathematics at both middle and high school levels. He thrives on engaging with students and tackling every problem, regardless of difficulty, with enthusiasm. Guanbo's teaching approach emphasizes active participation, often providing hints to encourage students to think critically and independently as they navigate through each problem.

Jasper Diggs

Jasper Diggs

Jasper joined AoPS Academy in 2017. Both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees deal with reading specialization in the elementary grades. She has been an educator for the past 15 years: 13 years with Montgomery County Public Schools and 2 years with Okaloosa County in Destin, FL. In 2015, Jasper worked as a reading interventionist for Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR). Since then, she has continued to pursue opportunities that allow her to practice her specialization in reading diagnostics. She currently serves as a reading specialist in the public school system. In her spare time, Jasper loves to read anything suspenseful or quirky, and she shares this love with her monthly book club. She looks forward to instilling a love of reading in her AoPS Academy students!

David Elkin

David Elkin

David is a science, mathematics, and English teacher who takes a personal interest in all of his students. After a career as a research physicist and an image analyst for the Hubble Space Telescope and other DoE, DoD and NASA missions, he transitioned to teaching students on all levels. The quality and dedication of the staff impressed him when he applied to teach. He values being a member of the AoPS Academy. He develops a relationship with each student to foster their learning experience in the classroom enhanced with 1-on-1 guidance. In teaching, he involves students in the presentation of topics to the class and working out solutions to problems in groups. He makes mathematics enjoyable and rewarding.

Nikki Estey

Nikki Estey

Nikki taught middle and high school mathematics in New York City, NY, and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. She studied at Yale Law School and Teachers College, Columbia University; and she previously worked as a lawyer in New York City, Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroon, and a volunteer emergency medical technician for the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department. Nikki was drawn to the fun, vibrant, high-achieving community at AoPS, and she loves the passion the students and instructors share for mathematics and learning. Nikki’s favorite things about working with students are learning from their creative insights, sharing their excitement and pride when solving new and interesting problems, getting to know their unique personalities, and enjoying their tween and teenage senses of humor. In the classroom, Nikki likes to let her students take the lead as much as possible.

Dr. Jean Freedman

Dr. Jean Freedman

Jean has a BA in theater from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA and PhD in folklore from Indiana University. In addition to being a language arts instructor at AoPS Gaithersburg, she is a professorial lecturer at George Washington University and a writing tutor at Montgomery College. She is the author of two books: Whistling in the Dark: Memory and Culture in Wartime London and Peggy Seeger: A Life of Music, Love, and Politics, and her articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Journal of American Folklore, and other publications. Jean believes that education is a joint project between the teacher and the students. She loves working with the bright young students at AoPS, and in her classes, she hopes to show them that, as Aristotle said, nothing is more fun than learning.

Suman Garg

Suman Garg

Suman is an IT professional with a master's degree in computer science. For over 18 years, she has been deeply immersed in the dynamic world of technology, specializing as a full-stack developer. Her true love lies in the realm of mathematics. In her spare time, she channels this passion into teaching kids the wonders of math. There's something incredibly rewarding about seeing young minds light up with understanding and excitement for numbers! Her teaching philosophy is centered around fostering critical thinking and igniting a passion for problem-solving. She thrives on challenging her students, encouraging lively discussions, and crafting engaging classroom activities that inspire exploration and discovery.

Kyle Gordon

Kyle Gordon

Kyle is a college graduate with two degrees in math and physics. While his academics were primarily focused on math and physics, he also incorporated education coursework. Since graduating, Kyle has worked in the field of lasers and optics for more than 15 years. His love of teaching has led him to work as an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, provide instruction and training for LiDAR systems, and most recently, tutoring. When it comes to teaching and tutoring, Kyle’s philosophy is that no two students are the same, so his ability to adapt to how each student learns is the keystone of his methods. Kyle has recently taken up baking, so don’t be surprised by the occasional treat.

Dr. John Klinger

Dr. John Klinger

Dr. Klinger received a PhD in physics from Cornell University. Afterwards, he started a career in the aerospace industry as a software engineer. Retiring from full time work in 2017, he tutored math and physics students, when he was unexpectedly asked to help a 2nd grader taking classes at AoPS. The AoPS math problems reminded him of the math tricks and puzzles that he enjoyed as a young man. Dr. Klinger appreciates the opportunity to work with young people and especially enjoys the "ohhh, I get it" response he occasionally gets when teaching. Dr. Klinger is somewhat lax as a disciplinarian and tries to keep the class focused on the math by keeping it interesting and fun.

Pamela Lewton

Pamela Lewton

Pamela is a graduate of Wheaton College and earned a Masters of Arts in teaching from Johns Hopkins University. She has worked as an elementary school teacher for many years teaching second, third and fifth grade students. Her favorite subject to teach is math. She enjoys getting to know her students and understanding their individual learning styles. She has also worked as a substitute teacher for classes ranging from kindergarten through 8th grade. She came to AoPS as a math instructor because she enjoys teaching with the Beast Academy curricula. While the animated stories are entertaining, she feels their real value lies in their ability to explain math content in a clear and concise manner. She likes how the math activities progress from straight-forward practice to more challenging problems that require critical thinking and problem solving skills. The starred problems give students a sense of satisfaction when solved. As a language arts instructor, one of her favorite classroom activities is to enjoy a good book with students. She loves discussing a story, characters, problems and solutions, and then supporting students as they write about the book. Her teaching style involves creating a classroom environment where students feel comfortable to ask questions, share their ideas, and take risks. Her favorite part of teaching is asking questions to encourage students to dig deeper, persist, and solve problems in a collaborative environment.

Katherine Lin

Katherine Lin

Katherine's educational and professional background is secondary education in science. She was drawn to AoPS for its above and beyond approach to learning and thinking, where students are challenged, encouraged to welcome these challenges, and prepared to succeed with these challenges. What she loves most about working with students is helping them to unlock their potential. Her teaching style is that of a fellow mind helping students along in their journey. This means suggesting ideas and thoughts, which differ for different students in different situations, for the students to purposefully connect pieces and problem solve on their own to reach solutions.

Su Loo

Su Loo

Su has a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, as well as a master’s degree in math education from Western Governor’s University, Utah. Su is a National Board certified teacher, and has taught Algebra, Geometry, Personal Finance and Pre-Calculus in public and private middle and high schools. She was drawn to AoPS as the focus is on challenging students in math problem solving and critical thinking skills. She enjoys discussing problem solving strategies with students and loves to see students exploring and discovering math concepts, as well as persevering when they encounter challenges. Her teaching style is a hybrid style. Sometimes, she is a lecturer, bringing her knowledge and expertise to the classroom. Other times, she is a facilitator, encouraging students to use academic language to explain terms and ask questions, as well as collaborate together to come up with solution methods.

Nelson Lu

Nelson Lu

Nelson received his BS in mathematics from National Taiwan University. He also holds an MS in actuarial science and PhD in statistics from the University of Iowa. Nelson works as a full-time statistician, specializing in the study designs and data analyses of clinical studies. Nelson learned about the great material used in AoPS and the type of students attracted to the institution and felt that AoPS would provide him with a great opportunity to help high-performing students. He enjoys helping students to think critically and to see the beauty of mathematics. He prefers to teach in an interactive style, making necessary adjustments based on topics and/or level of students.

Jariah McFadden

Jariah McFadden

Jariah earned a Bachelor of Science in communications and a Masters of Arts in sociology from St. John's University. She works full-time in the non-profit sector supporting organizations with their institutional fundraising efforts. Jariah was drawn to AoPS because of the Academy's core values and inspiring teaching philosophy that holistically supports students long-term growth and development. She finds great joy in helping students become more confident writers and believes in student-centered teaching methods that are grounded in collaboration.

Ella Mihailescu

Ella Mihailescu

Ella has PhD in physical-chemistry from Munster University, Germany and is now a research professor with the University of Maryland. In her research work, she combines physics, chemistry, and mathematics to figure out the structure of biological molecules and how they interact to sustain life. Ella was drawn to AoPS by her continuous interest in math and her belief in the incredible potential of young minds. She has taught at AoPS since 2019. Ella loves challenging the students to use basic math concepts to derive answers by the power of deduction and logic. Her teaching style is engaging, with attention to each student's abilities and character. She is a staunch advocate of using (parentheses) in calculations.

Arunasri Nishtala

Arunasri Nishtala

Aruna pursued her education in physics, working on non linear dynamics. She was drawn to AoPS as a mode for her children to learn, and then, looking at their progress, got inspired by the organization in how they are teaching kids. Children have best minds to inquire and process logic, math, and scientific phenomena, both with naivety and with sophistication. Aruna's teaching style is based on conversation and collaboration. She likes a very active class coming up with their own methods of solving problems.

Yvonne O’Neill

Yvonne O’Neill

Yvonne enthusiastically continues to teach language arts at AoPS! Along with her lifelong love of learning and encouraging students, she now brings 20 years of classroom teaching experience to her pupils. In addition to AoPS, she currently teaches second grade at The Avalon School, Wheaton, MD. A graduate of Washington College, Chestertown, MD, she holds a BA in English and an MS in public relations from American University, Washington, DC. She enjoys observing AoPS scholars gain more confidence and improve their writing skills each year. Her engaging teaching style encourages classroom participation and public speaking skills.

Anna Perrin-Porzondek

Anna Perrin-Porzondek

Anna graduated in 2015 from Michigan State University with a BS in mathematics, BA in Spanish, minor in linguistics, and secondary education certification for mathematics and Spanish. She earned her Master of Arts in education with a concentration in mathematics from Michigan State University in 2019. Anna was drawn to AoPS by the opportunity to support enthusiastic students in developing their ability to discover and manipulate mathematics in a creative way. She loves working with students most through their lightbulb discovery moments. It doesn’t matter your speed with learning and grasping deep ideas, but rather your persistence through challenge and the joy of new understandings. Anna’s teaching style is discussion focused, with a priority on opportunities for all students to learn and grow from the ideas of one another.

Cheryl Pressl

Cheryl Pressl

Cheryl holds a degree in education from the Association Montessori Internationale as well as a bachelor's degree in economics and philosophy from the Catholic University of America. She loves the creative and engaging way that AoPS inspires students to read and develop their writing and math skills. She particularly enjoys watching students increase in self confidence by solving challenging problems. Her teaching style encourages a growth mindset, guiding students to view mistakes and obstacles as tools for learning.

Philip Rennert

Philip Rennert

Phil is a semi-retired research engineer in information science, in the overall business of extracting wisdom from information overload; he specializes in machine learning, natural language processing, data mining, and statistics (he had an earlier career in aerospace including Space Shuttle and satellite systems). Phil has a bachelor's degree in math from Yale and a master's degree in applied math from NYU. While Phil was a high-school student in Cambridge, Mass., he was lucky enough to find a program similar in concept to AoPS taught by MIT students, where he learned a lot of interesting math and science. Phil is very happy to have the chance to give this back to another generation, and has enjoyed teaching at AoPS since 2017. He most enjoys seeing "math kids" getting the same pleasure out of a new idea/theorem/tool which he did when he learned it, and the moment of "Oh!" Phil's goal is to guide the student into getting there on his/her own, so the material becomes his/hers. Also Phil makes connections to other areas of math, science, and engineering; now you've learned this new tool, here are all the cool things you can do with it!

Michael Seablom

Michael Seablom

Mike's passion for math comes from studying the weather. He holds a BS in meteorology from Florida State University, an MBA in management of technology from Georgia Tech, and an MS in atmospheric sciences from Purdue, where he led the department’s tornado chase team. He has spent the past thirty years deriving numerical algorithms to improve data assimilation for weather prediction and climate forecasting, both for the government and in the private sector. Mike has also derived methods to manipulate and display Earth science data. As a senior leader in the US Government, Mike has led technology challenge opportunities for students from across the country. An AoPS instructor since 2018, Mike has thoroughly enjoyed inspiring AoPS students. AoPS students have an appetite for learning that culminates in that “ah ha!” moment that is so satisfying for a teacher. I also enjoy watching the kids who stay with the program year after year achieve progress in their school and knowing that I helped contribute to that growth. Mike likes to combine real-world examples of applied math with the regular course instruction. For the upper grades, he typically begins each class by showing the operational numerical weather prediction models and assessing the skill of recent forecasts. He also reminds the kids that math is what is powers these models, and the economic benefits that accurate weather prediction enables. The class also discusses current events such as eclipses, aurora displays, or other natural phenomena that can be described with mathematics. Mike treats those students like they’re young adults, and he tries to engage them and challenge as much as possible. He also encourages the students to come up to the front of the class and explain how they were able to tackle the lesson topics, because teaching is a great way to learn.

Our family regularly talks about AoPS. We try to think about how our life would be different without you all. What if my daughter hadn't learned to love math? What if she never experienced being pushed to her limits? Overcoming failure? She wouldn't be who she is. And she is AWESOME! A very proud mom here. We are so fortunate that we found AoPS Academy. I credit AoPS for much of her confidence.

Kelly B.,

AoPS Academy parent to 16-year-old engineering major at UW and future cancer researcher